The biggest mistake I see new VA’s make? Not having their business set up properly! Many people think that they can start advertising right away – before having anything set up on the backend. But what happens when you have someone who wants to book you? By having these items set up before you market your business, you are going to look so much more professional. Trust me – an inquiry who sees that your business isn’t set up yet will notice!
Now, before we dive in – make sure you have a business name. While I have a whole module in the Masterclass on how to pick the perfect name – today I want to focus on how to secure the name you chose. Once you have settled on a name, make sure that name is not taken already!
I recommend starting as a Sole Proprietorship. This is how I started my business when I got started. This is the simplest and easiest way to structure your business – this is most likely how you will want to start out. This means it is a business operated by one individual.
So how do you set up a sole proprietorship? Well, in most states, you don’t even need to register or get a license! For example, in Georgia and New York, you do not need to register as long as you are the sole owner. Since these laws vary by state and can change, please make sure to do a quick search with your state. For example, in Alaska, you do not need to register unless you are a married couple running the company. Also, your CPA will be able to let you know as well. Also check with your county and city, as some do require a license to operate.
When you first get started, a Sole Proprietorship is the easiest way to go, since it you will most likely not need to register or pay any fees to start. You can easily get an LLC after you start, as well, even if you are a sole proprietorship.
An LLC means a Limited Liability Company. You can have an LLC when it is just you, no employees needed. It will protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit. For this post, I am going to focus on a sole proprietorship, since that is what most businesses in this field start as. In the Masterclass, I go over LLC in much more detail.
NO matter what business type you pick, an LLC, or Sole Proprietorship, you should get an EIN. An EIN is an Employer ID Number used by the IRS. You will use this instead of your Social Security Number. It is so much better to use an EIN than your social security number when you deal with clients!
Many banks require you to have an EIN before opening a business bank account, so it’s important to get one! Setting up an EIN is easy, and takes minutes. You will get your number within minutes!
MAKE SURE TO ONLY GO THROUGH THE IRS.GOV WEBSITE TO DO THIS! DO NOT USE ANY OTHER WEBSITE! There are so many scam sites out there, so don’t get caught up in the wrong website! You can do it online using the EIN Assist, via the IRS Website. This is available 7AM to 10PM EST Monday – Friday. All you need is a social security number, and a business name.
I often get asked if it’s really that important to set up a business bank account. And the answer is YES! It is important to separate your business finances, from your personal finances. This means having a separate bank account for your business.
Once you have an EIN, you can open a bank account, Stripe account, or any other payment service to take money on behalf of your business. Having the money in separate accounts makes accounting, and taxes, much easier. No matter how you accept payments, the IRS will want to see a separate account for your business come tax time.
You can set up a business bank account pretty much everywhere. First, check your local bank, or whoever you currently bank with. All you do is walk in, and ask for information on their business bank accounts. Fees will vary from bank to bank. To start, you just need a checking account.
Next, you need a contract! Keep in mind: Even if you purchase a contract from online to use, have a lawyer in your state and city look over it, to ensure it covers all state rules and regulations. It is much better to pay this fee now than have to deal with a non-paying client, or a lawsuit, down the road.
Here are some important reasons why you need a contract.
Now, what happens if a client does not want to sign a contract? Simple. You will not work with them. I don’t care if this is your dreamiest client in the whole wide word, NEVER EVER work unless you have a contract.
So you are probably wondering – where do I get a contract? Here are a few places!
The last thing you need is a way to take payment, send contracts, and invoices- and I recommend doing this using a CRM! A CRM is a customer management system. This is going to make your life as a virtual assistant 100 times easier – I promise. If you only take one tip out of this post – take this one: Get yourself a CRM!
Dubsado is hands down my favorite program. It allows you to not only send invoices, receive money, and create proposals, but it also allows you to create contracts and contact forms. You can easily send contracts and invoices to have clients sign digitally. It also has a scheduler so you can schedule appointments with clients with ease. It also has time-tracking that allows you to track tasks minute by minute, and assign them to a client’s invoice.
Dubsado is geared towards creative entrepreneurs, including wedding planners, photographers, and artists. You can customize everything that is sent out to reflect your brand, including fonts, logo, and colors. The lead capturing service allows you to easily keep track of incoming leads and makes sure you never overlook them. PLUS their customer service is incredible. The best part? Dubsado is FREE for your first three projects! So you can use it at the very beginning of your business – without an extra expense!
*this post contains affiliate links. These links do not add any fee to you using and may compensate The Creative VA Academy and Ava And The Bee.